The New York Times has a short article on the recent upsurge of interest in both the arts and sciences on lucid dreaming – a form of reflective self-awareness in which you realise you’re dreaming when it occurs.
You can apparently train yourself to increase your chances of having a lucid dream, and proponents say that the self-awareness allows you to change your ‘dream reality’ at will.
Unfortunately, it’s jolly hard to study scientifically, because its rare, unpredictable and you can’t signal when it occurs.
This means its hard even to make simple correlations between lucid dreaming and measures of brain activity.
Although occasional studies have attempted to study it in ‘proficient’ lucid dreamers, it’s also been used as the basis for a philosophical analysis of what it tells us about different types of consciousness.
We normally assume we’re unconscious during sleep, yet lucid dreaming suggests that while we have reflective self-consciousness (usually considered the ‘highest form’ of consciousness), we don’t experience the ‘lower’ form of perceptual conscious awareness to the same degree.
Link to NYT article ‘Living Your Dreams, in a Manner of Speaking’.